Category Archives: Design

Niyona workshop

Recently, I had the pleasure to join the “an initiation in leather” workshop at the atelier of Niyona in Brussels, Belgium. In a few hours, I created a small leather wallet / card holder from scratch! How exciting!

It was very interesting to learn about the different steps to make a leather item (purse, bag, whatever), to have an introduction to all the machines and to see the passion of true craftsmen (and women).

Niyona deel 1kl

The Niyona pieces are all crafted in Belgium and all very original. Their flagship store Hello James also offers some other cool, small brands. Crafted by real people who spent hours on the details of the product. All products are a great combination of craftsmanship, design and innovation.  Owner Nina clearly has a strong vision of what her brand should be.

Niyona deel 2kl

Niyona Ateliers & flagship store: Rue de Laeken 86 (Lakensestraat), Brussels.

Pictures by Niyona and myself.

The faceted trend evolving

Being a countermovement from hyper realistic animations, video-games and computer images, this polygonal way of creating images gives hard edges to round shapes. The design world is ready to move away from the organic forms of the past few years. Realistic shapes are used in a faceted way, or the shapes are altered using some new edges.

collage facetted interiour
The faceted trend has gone on for quite a while now and can already be seen in mainstream designs, packaging, typography and retail, but we can see some developments. More and more details are added and subtlety is coming back. It’s now also used in combination with photography and other graphic design styles and shapes.

collage facetted graphic

In fashion it is used to give volume and rigidness to the flowyness of fabrics. Ine de Haes makes beautiful shapes in her garments, using a faceted way to fold the fabric. Jewelry is showing geometric shapes and exaggerated faceted gems or beads.

collage facetted fashion


o.10315Diptyque is a brand that is surrounded by French elegance and history. Candles, perfumes, room fragrances and bath and body products, all made with natural scents, make up the simple but solid collection of this brand.

In 1961, three creative friends named Christiane Gautrot, Desmond Knox-Leet, and Yves Coueslant, all from the world of fine arts and décor, decided to open a bazaar store in Paris, on 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain. From here, they displayed and sold their designs and other things they had found during their travels. They also gave their customers the opportunity to discover the biggest names in traditional English perfumes, then little known in France.

In 1963 they produced a line of scented candles of their own, which eventually became the main focus of the brand. Because of the success of these scented candles, they expanded their line with their first eau de toilette in 1968. Named l’Eau, it is inspired by a 16th-century potpourri recipe and the scent of pomanders. Since the added success of the first perfume, Diptyque has been producing a refined collection of eaux de toilettes with a highly distinctive signature for over 40 years. The scents are inspired by nature and travel, the forgotten taste of a particular fruit, exotic spices and subtle notes of wood. Slowly, the brand expanded and also used their signature scents in other products, like room fragrances and bath and body product.


The Diptyque products aren’t just products; they tell a story and create a ceremonial experience. It feels authentic. The story is flawlessly communicated and every product feels lovingly created. The scents, materials, packaging, visuals and store experience communicate Diptyque’s powerful narrative.




Diptyque can always be recognized by the iconic oval, which can be found on all products made by the brand. The shape is of a shields of ancient Rome or an 18th-century medallion. While the emblematic shape always stays the same, the rest of the design often gets reinvented for new products.

It shows that Diptyque is started by three very creative people, because they collaborate with known and unknown artists who help them design great products, graphics and packaging. Some of my favourites:

safia ouares diptiqye new
Safia Ouares


Kuntzel & Deygas


jmgJean-Marc Gady


mina perhonen new

Minä Perhonen


Lanternes_Paris-Tokyo_BDJosé Levy


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Skaggs Creative



Pierrick Calvez


qubo gasQubo Gas

Stromae + Mosaert = Maestro


The stylish singer-songwriter Stromae often looks like a dandy from the future.

This Belgian pop star whose real name is Paul van Haver sold 1.5 million copies in France and 2.75 million worldwide, plus his videos have attracted hundreds of millions of views on YouTube. He creates the most striking music videos and is called the new Jacques Brel.

He describes his music style as a mix of hip-hop, dance music, salsa and French folk music and his lyrics often deal with social issues like absent dads or gender inequality. His songs are sad with contemplative lyrics, but you can’t help dancing to it.

He is an artist who makes his music and his performance a comprehensive image and has been able to set up a clear brand. In all his outings, he makes it look like he has made no concessions on his creativity.



Stromae has been able to create such a consistent and recognizable image for his music, album covers, outfits and performances thanks to his creative label called Mosaert.


The Mosaert crew consists of creative director Stromae, stylist Carolie Barbier and graphic design agency Boldatwork.

This creative team has developed several visuals to promote Stromae’s second album. They came up with a different pattern for each song, which could also be used as an all-over pattern on fabric. Each pattern reflects the lyrics as well as the specific musical influences of each song.

These patterns create specific looks for each specific song, which are reinforced by Stromae’s performance in the video and in television appearances. These looks are very strong and do not overlap.

For the song ‘Tous les mêmes’ (‘All the same’), which picks apart gender stereotypes, the androgynous artist created a half-man, half-woman character.

The print which was made for the song ‘Papaoutai’ (‘Dad, where are you?’) shows a little boy sitting on his father’s shoulders.

dribbble_papaoutai_01 View More:

The song ‘Formidable’ was supported by a wonderful drunk act in Stromae’s video and in live performances and is accompanied by a pattern of carboard moving boxes. He sings about breaking up with his girlfriend, the pattern of moving boxes with ‘ fragile’  marks on it adds to the story.

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The label Mosaert entered the fashion business last April and their first collection of polo’s and socks sold out in a matter of days. The clothing is manufactured in Europe (France, Belgium and Portugal) and only available in limited stocks.


The second collection isn’t big either; it only consists of polo’s, shirts, cardigans and socks. The style is English, mixed with the geometric patterns and the warm colours of African wax patterns. The Escher-like prints are mainly built up from clear grids and isometric perspectives in jacquards. It’s all in the details and it seems like they have made no concessions, like Stromae’s music.



All of the products are unisex, again referring to the recurrent theme of gender differences

Prices range from €17 for socks to €148 for a cardigan or a pull. The collection is available at Hunting and Collecting in Brussels (Kartuizerstraat 17), Colette in Paris (213 Rue Saint-Honoré) and in the Mosaert webshop.


Images from Italian Vogue Italia,, Boldatwork.